54th annual Porter Forum will be virtual


NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s School of Business will present the 54th annual J. Walter Porter Forum beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15.  This year’s forum will be presented virtually due to COVID-19 safety protocols.  Participants can log onto http://bit.ly/2020JWPF to join the forum, which is free and open to the public.

This year the J. Walter Porter Forum Committee selected the theme “Money in the Time of Floods” with guest speaker Boyce Upholt, MFA.  Upholt is an award-winning freelance writer whose particular interest is the Mississippi River and human impact on that magnificent body of water.  Upholt’s talk will focus on the river and its many distributaries, including the Red River, and the flooding that has long been associated with them.  Using the history of these rivers a starting point, the talk will examine the mismatch between the natural environment and economic thinking and will explore the emerging field of “ecological economics” as a potential answer.

Upholt studies and writes about the way humans shape a place and the way it shapes humans. He won the 2019 award for investigative journalism from the James Beard Foundation and was named a 2016 Writer of the Year by the International Regional Magazine Association.  He is currently working on a book about the Mississippi River, a history of what humans have done to it and a travelogue showing the consequences.

The annual J. Walter Porter Forum is made possible by an endowment established by the family and friends of the late J. Walter Porter in recognition of his interest in improving the image of business as a career field for college students and of his concern for moral and ethical standards as expressed in his philosophy of business. The forum is an effort to translate the textbook into practice by bringing capable, successful business executives to the campus to speak on selected topics in their area of expertise.

Porter was a native of Kaufman County, Texas, and graduated from Texas A&M University in 1922.  He earned a master’s degree in civil engineering at Harvard in 1924 and in 1931 helped organize the Gifford-Hill Pipe Company in Grand Prairie, Texas. Porter saw the need to bridge the gap between the college campus and industry, feeling that many in the academic, professional, governmental and business world fail to understand the workings of a competitive system and the motivating forces behind it.

Porter was determined to contribute to a better understanding of that system among his own employees, associates and on college campuses.  His death in 1965 came on the eve of a scheduled three-day lecture program at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.  The J. Walter Porter Forum is a continuation of his efforts to increase that understanding.

“We hope this year’s forum is insightful and impactful for everyone,” said Dr. Carmella Parker, associate professor and coordinator of outreach and special projects for NSU’s School of Business.

For more information, contact Parker at (318) 357-5723 or email parkerc@nsula.edu.